No. 23 Wartburg needs rally to escape Central women’s basketball team

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

PELLA—A gritty defensive effort helped the Central College women’s basketball team push No. 23-ranked Wartburg College to the limit before it escaped 55-43 Saturday.

The Dutch (5-8 overall, 1-3 American Rivers Conference) were on the brink of a major surprise, leading last year’s Division III runners-up 24-21 at intermission and 37-34 after three quarters. Wartburg finally took a 36-35 lead with 8:52 left. It was still 42-39 at the 4:42 mark before the Knights closed the game with a 13-4 run.

Central limited Wartburg to 27.3-percent shooting from the field, but the Knights were 16 of 18 from the free throw line (88.9 percent) and held a 45-39 rebounding advantage.

Wartburg (11-2 overall, 4-0 conference), which last year rolled up two victories over Central by a combined 63 points, was coming to Pella on a tear and will likely climb in the next rankings, having rocked No. 20 Randolph-Macon (Va.) 77-58 Dec. 18 before stunning No. 3 St. Thomas (Minn.) 60-40 last Sunday. But this year’s Dutch more than held their own.

“I thought we defended and competed at a really high level,” coach Joe Steinkamp said. “We did a good job of executing our game plan.

“We really made Wartburg work. They had to score in ways they didn’t necessarily want to go to.”

Forward Kendall Brown (junior, Moravia) had her third statistical double-double of the year and her second in a row, with 12 points and 10 rebounds to go with four blocks. Guard Maci Gambell (freshman, Hedrick, Pekin HS) added 10 points and seven rebounds while guard Jenna Clark (freshman, Story City, Roland-Story HS) had four assists.

“Kendall had another great game,” Steinkamp said. “And Maci was able to drive and get some buckets. She uses her strength really well on those drives and showed she can score against really good players.”

Steinkamp also liked the floor game of forward Sami Craig (sophomore, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) who contributed six rebounds and four steals and guard Emily Hay (sophomore, Stanwood, North Cedar HS), who had seven points. Hay and Clark had to play extended minutes after guard Kristin Hubert (senior, Hornick, Woodbury Central HS) was injured late in the first half.

“Sami and Emily did a really good job on defense, not only on the ball but they were really disruptive off the ball with tips and steals,” Steinkamp said.

It was an encouraging performance.

“I’m really proud of all the players in the program,” he said. “I feel like we’re getting better and it’s a byproduct of the way we’ve been practicing. It didn’t result in a win and I don’t like moral victories, but we’re starting to see some glimpses of how good we can be.”
The Dutch are home again Wednesday, taking on Buena Vista University, in a women’s-men’s conference twinbill tipping off at 6 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium. Live stats and a video webcast will be available through athletics.central.edu.

Buena Vista is 5-9 overall and 0-5 in the league after dropping a 69-66 decision to Luther College Saturday at Storm Lake. The Beavers have won eight straight against Central, last losing in 2014.

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Posted by on Jan 5 2019. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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